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James B. Longley

James B. Longley

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James Bernard Longley, Sr. (April 22, 1924 – August 16, 1980) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 politician. He served as the 69th Governor of Maine
Governor of Maine
The governor of Maine is the chief executive of the State of Maine. Before Maine was admitted to the Union in 1820, Maine was part of Massachusetts and the governor of Massachusetts was chief executive....

 from 1975 to 1979, and was the first Independent to hold the office. In 1949, he married the former Helen Angela Walsh, who died on September 13, 2005. They had five children, including former Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 U.S. Representative James B. Longley, Jr.
James B. Longley, Jr.
James B. "Jim" Longley, Jr. is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a Republican politician from Maine....

 (born 1951). Longley, a graduate of Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College , founded in 1794, is an elite private liberal arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick, Maine. As of 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranks Bowdoin 6th among liberal arts colleges in the United States. At times, it was ranked as high as 4th in the country. It is...

 in Brunswick
Brunswick, Maine
Brunswick is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 20,278 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area. Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, , and the...

, Maine, resided in Lewiston
Lewiston, Maine
Lewiston is a city in Androscoggin County in Maine, and the second-largest city in the state. The population was 41,592 at the 2010 census. It is one of two principal cities of and included within the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine metropolitan New England city and town area and the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine...

 and Auburn
Auburn, Maine
Auburn is a city in and the county seat of Androscoggin County, Maine, United States. The population was 23,055 at the 2010 census. It is one of two principal cities of and included in the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine metropolitan New England city and town area and the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine metropolitan...

, Maine.

Longley – the owner of a successful insurance agency in Lewiston
Lewiston, Maine
Lewiston is a city in Androscoggin County in Maine, and the second-largest city in the state. The population was 41,592 at the 2010 census. It is one of two principal cities of and included within the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine metropolitan New England city and town area and the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine...

 – got his first opportunity in statewide politics when then Governor Kenneth M. Curtis
Kenneth M. Curtis
Kenneth Merwin Curtis is an American lawyer and former politician. He is currently a principal in the law firm of Curtis Thaxter Stevens Broder & Micoleau Limited Liability Company, P.A....

 asked him to lead a state government commission called The Maine Management and Cost Survey Commission, which was intended to make government more efficient, and cut costs. After some initial reluctance, Longley accepted the position and pursued the job with vigor.

Longley made several recommendations that were projected to save the state in excess of $24 million dollars. One of his major proposals included restructuring the Maine university system, which he felt was grossly inefficient. His work at the commission gave him a prominent state-wide profile, something he decided to try to turn into an electoral mandate when Governor Curtis retired in 1974.

Longley had been a lifelong Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, but due to earning a maverick reputation acting in a non-partisan role on the cost-cutting commission and because he inadvertently missed the filing deadline for party candidates, he ran as an Independent
Independent (politician)
In politics, an independent or non-party politician is an individual not affiliated to any political party. Independents may hold a centrist viewpoint between those of major political parties, a viewpoint more extreme than any major party, or they may have a viewpoint based on issues that they do...

. Some Maine observers believed he knew he would be unable to beat both former Edmund Muskie
Edmund Muskie
Edmund Sixtus "Ed" Muskie was an American politician from Rumford, Maine. He served as Governor of Maine from 1955 to 1959, as a member of the United States Senate from 1959 to 1980, and as Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter from 1980 to 1981...

 adviser George J. Mitchell
George J. Mitchell
George John Mitchell, Jr., is the former U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under the Obama administration. A Democrat, Mitchell was a United States Senator who served as the Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995...

 and state Senator
Maine Senate
The Maine Senate is the upper house of the Maine Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Maine. The Senate currently consists of 35 members representing an equal number of districts across the state, though the Maine Constitution allows for "an odd number of Senators, not less than...

 Joseph E. Brennan in a Democratic primary, causing him to not file with a party. He ran on the slogan "Think About It," a phrase he often used with insurance customers to get them to consider his products.

Longley promised during his campaign that he would serve only one term, and he did not run for re-election in 1978. He died of cancer on August 16, 1980, and was interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lewiston.